Try Rogue-Life, a tiny free game I made

rogue-life

Ludumdare is a game jam where they announce a theme and you make a game over the weekend just for fun and practice.

It’s a fantastic way to get your game design juices flowing as hey, no matter how bad you fail, it was only a couple days.  The time-pressure if only having a few days and HAVING to release whatever you have is great for those that like to quit projects halfway, like me.

About the “game” I made:

Rogue-Life is a weird experimental thing that crosses a board game, a rogue-like, and the hollow illusion of controlling that random dungeon of existence we’ve each received.

Can you find meaning before you “Grow” old and die? There are 5 of them to find.

Tips:

  • You are always aging (even while standing still), and you will eventually die
  • Don’t waste your life on the wrong jobs, different jobs give different emotional benefits as well as pay. For instance, a Soup Kitchen pays $0 but raises your Self Acceptance
  • Some lives cannot be happy or successful no matter what you do
  • Overcoming an obstacle (the pad-locked doors) give a bonus to all stats
  • Your stats change with age. For instance, your Physical will go down as you enter old age, and your Self Acceptance takes a hit in your teenage years
  • Meanings are marked by trophies icons – you can zoom out with your mouse wheel to see where they are easier

I’m not ever sure if it’s possible to find all “meaning” in a single life before dying. 3 out 5 is my best.

Post-mortem:

Good:

  • Well, I made what I set out to do
  • It’s funny in weird and unexpected ways, like to accept lack of control and chaos (one of the meanings) you may need to murder someone
  • “Pushing” against a job to continue working there is a nice easy way to control things
  • Got a bit more comfortable with Unity and WegGL

Bad:

  • It’s kind of boring. You end up pushing against everything without even reading what’s happening
  • The more text and numbers I removed, the better it plays. But don’t feel like doing that
  • The random stuff is way too random, each life is completely different and some don’t make sense. Hey, maybe that’s fitting though

For the daring, you can play the game in your web browser here.  Probably doesn’t work right on mobile as you need arrow keys to control stuff.

Toolfish (was $10) is now free as of today

What is Toolfish?  It’s my tiny tray app for power users that runs in the background while you’re using your Windows machine.

I’ve used this app EVERY DAY for the last 10 years and the first thing I do after buying a new computer is move my Toolfish setup to it!

It allows you to stack “Triggers” that cause “Actions“, which can also be stacked.  For instance, a trigger could be “if Ctrl-Alt-L” is down, and a certain app name is in focus, run some Actions.

Actions could be could be things like running programs, faking keystrokes, reading text out-loud via text to speech, sending an email, lots of things.

It also has other built in features like Leet-Type (NEVER USE THIS!), neat stats like how many miles you’ve moved your mouse, Smart Muting your computer if inactive, letting you know if a Webpage has changed by more than a certain percent, or a certain word exists or is missing on a website, stuff like that.  All in a tiny 1.3 MB download!

I used to use it to run Funeral Quest if it noticed it wasn’t running… helped with crashes!

It comes with a few nice hotkeys like Ctrl-Shift-G to open a browser, Ctrl-Shift-Alt-I to paste your *true* IP address, stuff like that.

It can also Monitor if a website is down,  Shutdown or reboot your computer, just tons of weird stuff.

It also has a Stealth Mode to hide the tray icon – combined with the key stroke logger, this app could be used for evil, so don’t use it that way please!

It has “Event Wizards” that let you do things like “Remind me in 5 minutes” in just a few clicks.

Some features like email checking and atomic clock adjustments are less useful these days than when I wrote them (back in the Windows 98/2000 era) so I’d ignore those features.

Anyway, this is a $10 app that is now free, so give it a shot.  I’ll keep adding little tools and utilities to it, I did add one new action for this release:  “Set Microphone level“.

Big thanks to those who bought this over the last ten years!

You can read more about it here, or just go ahead and download the full version like you know you want to here for Vista/Win7/Newer.  For Win XP, try the older version.

My plan is to continue releasing more of my stuff as free as I get time to do it.

That old game Dink Smallwood is now playable in a browser!

Here is the full version of the RPG Dink Smallwood playable in desktop Chrome/Firefox by using Proton’s emscripten html5 export:

dink_html5

Play it here!

It’s not perfect, here is what’s wrong with it/missing:

  • No midi playback.  The fake SDL audio wrapper can’t handle it I guess although I didn’t really even try.  Anyone know a easy way to play Midi via emscripten?  All the CD audio does play though.
  • While save/load quicksave/quickload all work perfectly, nothing is actually saved if you close your browser window.  It’s possible but requires some async save/loading I didn’t feel like dealing with right now.  But this means don’t really play the game, you’ll lose everything!
  • The in-game DMOD download and install system amazingly does work, but only with Mystery Island because that dmod is hosted on the same domain.  It isn’t saved when the browser closes
  • No gamepad support
  • It’s big, it’s like a 40-50 mb download (not sure how well the web compression works) and has no loading bar during the initial load.  Wish emscripten’s .html maker would include one!  Anybody know how to add one easy? Maybe I should actually learn javascript someday.
  • Very unlikely it works on iOS Safari, only actually tested with Chrome on Windows

It’s an early step, but it’s very possible to setup some kind of system where you could click on any of the 300+ dmods on Dink Network and have them be (near) instantly playable right there in your browser.

Here’s another old game of mine exported to html5 with emscripten, Dungeon Scroll.

Tales of an App Store rejection

apple_rejection

Growtopia’s fishing update is happening a bit later than we expected. As a warning to other developers I’m explaining why.

Our app was rejected for mentioning other platforms – not in the app. Not in the description. Not in a screenshot. I know about those rules.

Where did I go wrong?

I mentioned other platforms in the private notes to the reviewer. I had a line of text mentioning that as a multi-platform game, accounts created on Windows/Mac/Android also could log on as a sort of an explanation of why I didn’t use GameCenter or iCloud saves.

I removed that line of text (with no other changes) and resubmitted. It was approved nine days later. I guess this text would fall under “metadata”.  I’ve never read any warnings about this, so dear reader, consider yourself warned.

This text has been in the “notes to reviewer” for the last two years and 20+ updates. So don’t know if I’ve just been lucky, got unlucky, or an automated scanner was recently added that does scan all metadata including the notes to reviewer. (Doubtful, as a scan would probably be run during submission rather than after the nine day review wait)

apple_rejection_timeline

And that kids, is why it took 18 days to get our update approved. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Release parity on four platforms for an MMO is hard

We add new content around every three weeks and things like this make it a challenge to sync up the four platforms we support to enable new features. If anyone asks why we don’t use the Mac App Store for our Mac client, well, now you know!

Being a top 1000 grossing app does not grant any special treatment or review times in my experience.

I try to allow enough time for a rejection, but when two rejections could mean (nearly) a month delay, well, you might be enjoying your Christmas themed app icon in January.

I’d love it if Apple would introduce a “Rush fee for a 48 hour review” option, would help immensely. I know there is a channel where you can beg for a rushed review, but I don’t think “my players need to fish” would have really cut it as an emergency.

Related side note: Last month we were rejected because the reviewer noticed we used the advertising ID but didn’t know WHERE we used it.

I’ve heard of a few other devs getting dinged with this recently too – so be sure to point out in your notes to the reviewer exactly where it’s used and how to get there.

And whatever you do, don’t mention the word Android!

Apple Watch review for cyclists

I’ve had an Apple Watch for a couple months.

The idea was I could throw it on when biking for an easy way to watch my heart rate and possibly use the GPS mapping to not get lost.

Problem 1:  The screen delay

Biking in Japan is a lot like playing the classic game Paperboy,  many ways to die if you aren’t careful.  Looking at your watch has to be done in a quick glance.

The Apple Watch is definitely the wrong device for this due to the lag in the screen turning on.

In the end, I started doing a wildly exaggerated wrist motion, waiting a second or so, then glancing down. The sad part is even then sometimes the watch screen wouldn’t turn on at all.

Problem 2:  The heart monitor

This may be a problem with my wrist in general (no, I don’t have a tattoo) but it really does a poor job of reading my heart rate.  I’d say it can do it about 20% of the time.  It’s not uncommon to get a 170 BPM reading and then show only 90 BPM ten seconds later.  Most of the time the heart rate information is dark red meaning “couldn’t get a reading recently”.  I sweat rather profusely when biking so maybe that’s the problem.

Sometimes I’d get a reading of 0 and wonder if my heart actually stopped.

Problem 3: The battery

When the Apple Watch has trouble reading your heart rate, it turns on additional LEDS on the bottom of the watch to.. I don’t know, look at your blood veins or something.  I suspect this (combined with having work out mode enabled) is how I could go from 100% battery to 0% in under four hours.

If the heart rate monitoring Gods smile upon your wrist, you may not have this issue.

Problem 4:  The software

Strava’s watch integration is fairly useless because after the watch turns off, you have to swipe to get it back.  I couldn’t get it to stay “in focus” on the watch for very long, maybe because Apple doesn’t allow custom watch faces (yet) and it would require that?

Using the heart rate monitor in Strava isn’t supported either, so basically the only thing it’s good for is manually pausing/unpausing the timer.

I couldn’t figure out any way to show Apple Maps and heart rate data at the same time.

Conclusion

Waste of time, get a Garmin. You replace the battery in their heart monitor maybe once a year – plus, you really need a speed sensor for your wheel to get reliable smart pausing anyway.

So my watch is sitting on the charger, unused. Maybe the Apple Watch 2…?